TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: WITCHBOARD 2: THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY (1993)

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WITCHBOARD 2: THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY (1993)

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Flick is Kevin S. Tenney’s sequel to his own 1986 Witchboard, but aside from a ouija board being key to the plot, it is a sequel in name only. Pretty young Paige (Ami Dolenz) has moved into a new apartment only to find a ouija board left behind by the previous owner. Of course she begins to use it and is contacted by the former tenant, a woman named Susan Sidney (Julie Michaels). At first the spirit seems to want help from Paige in solving her murder, but there may be a deeper and far more sinister reason for the spirit’s presence.

Film is written and directed by Tenney, much like the first movie and like that flick is far more fun than scary. It follows the first film’s formula of a woman being contacted by a spirit via a ouija board and the ghost, at first, appearing benign and in need of help. Like the 1986 movie, Paige also has a jerk of a boyfriend (Timothy Gibbs) who we have a hard time liking and our heroine begins to show signs of progressive entrapment, as the sprit slowly takes control. Aside from the basic story elements, though, there seems to be no connection between Paige and Witchboard‘s Linda, nor any shared characters or referenced events. There is little or no suspense or scares, but it is entertaining and there are a few bloody deaths, though no explicit gore or nudity. Paige is a cute and likable heroine, even if her outfit of daisy dukes and cowboy boots doesn’t quite click as an outfit one would dig up a body in the middle of the night in. It does play much like an 80s horror, despite being made in 1993 and that helps with an amusing nostalgia factor. Tenney’s films aren’t known for mustering much intensity, but this flick has a few moments, though a few border on the silly, too, like a scene with a circular saw blade chasing it’s prey.

The cast is small but solid for this type of movie. Fan favorite Ami Dolenz is a good choice for Paige. She cute, sexy and makes an engaging heroine. She’s very likable and gives off a good Nancy Drew vibe as she investigates Susan’s alleged murder. Timothy Gibbs is fine as Paige’s cop ex-boyfriend Mitch, who remains an unlikable jerk till the last act, which makes it hard to root for him when he starts to behave more like a hero. John Gatins is far more likable as the landlords’ photographer son Russel, who takes an interest in Paige and thus her paranormal investigation. Russel’s parents, hippie landlady Elaine and her handyman husband, Jonas are played by SNL legend Laraine Newman and TV actor Christopher Michael Moore, respectively. Actress and stunt woman Julie Michaels (the hottie from the opening scene of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday) plays the late Susan Sidney in flashback and possession sequences and is effective in the part. Both Dolenz and Newman would work for Tenney again in his Die Hard with college coeds, Demolition University.

This flick doesn’t seem to have garnered the cult classic reputation that the original Witchboard has, though it’s just as amusing and Dolenz makes for a bit more animated a heroine than the slightly wooden Tawny Kitaen. It’s got an 80s vibe, despite it now being 1993, as it would be three more years before Scream would make horror flicks become more self aware and filled with pop culture referencing. It has a few spooky moments, some bloody demises and enough nostalgia to make an entertaining watch.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) planchettes.

 

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: WITCHTRAP (1989)

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WITCHTRAP (1989)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

1989 horror flick is written and directed by Kevin S. Tenney who gave us two 80s cult classics, Witchboard and Night Of The Demons. The story here, in his third flick, has a team of paranormal psychologists entering an old mansion that used to belong to a powerful psychic and warlock (J.P. Luebsen), who is now dead. His spirit supposedly haunts the place and the team is sent in with a trio of detectives to try to free the structure from it’s malevolent occupant’s grip. The spirit of Avery Lauder is a powerful one and soon the team’s numbers begin to dwindle as his diabolical influence attacks from beyond the grave.

This is a pretty bad movie. For starters, this flick has a silly plot of trying to subdue the evil spirit, so the present owner can turn the place into a ‘haunted bed and breakfast’ while the malevolent spirit is trying to resurrect himself. Add on to that the really wooden performances from the cast of unknowns…except for 80s scream queen Linnea Quigley…and some hysterically awful dialog and Tenney has fallen far from his first two cult favorite flicks. Even the shot set-ups are really awkward and the pacing is incredibly slow for a 90 minute flick, not to mention the really cheesy make-up and visual FX. It would appear Tenney forgot everything he learned about filmmaking for his third film and sadly, as it looks really amateur and he never really recovered, based on his mostly forgettable filmography following this clunker. At least there is a very 80s electronic score by the director’s brother, Dennis.

Sure, there is some entertainment value here. The dialog and some of the terrible acting can produce some giggles and Linnea Quigley does get to flash the assets that made her a horror icon during the 80s. It’s still not enough to really elevate this bomb or make it really worth sitting through. A disappointing and surprising misfire from a man who started his film career with two cult classics. Maybe he gave us everything he had the first two times around.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 powerful warlocks who inhabit a bad movie.

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